The Newman University theatre department is happy to welcome new Technical Director and Designer Daniel Williams to their team. Williams comes to Newman with more than 30 years of professional experience in set design, technical directing, teaching and more.
This semester, Williams will teach a course on stagecraft and a course on scene painting while filling the rest of his time working on upcoming shows at Newman University. Williams will create stage scenery for all music and theater performances and mentor students in the craft along the way.
Williams has always loved theater and is passionate about his work.
“I spend … every day working with students. Then I go home and I read plays, design shows and do all the working drawings and renderings, (writing down) things to communicate with the director and the rest of the show’s artistic staff about my visual concept of the production.”
Williams’ experience in the field includes selling theatrical equipment and working on feature films as a set designer or lighting director.
Films he worked on include the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, “Mr. Destiny” and “Big Fish.” He has also done work for Princess Cruise Lines, theme parks such as Universal Studios, operas, ballets, performers in Las Vegas and more.
He also comes with experience in teaching at college campuses, including Newman many years ago. In the early 1990s, he returned to his hometown of Wichita and taught as an adjunct at then Kansas Newman College.
“I found that I really enjoyed teaching, I really enjoyed having students and I really enjoyed being in Wichita,” he said.
He then taught at Wichita State University and other colleges in Kansas. His wife, a technical and lighting director as well, received a job in Tulsa that led Williams to a job at Oral Roberts University for a time. The Williams’ parents, children and grandchildren in Wichita eventually drew them back.
He said he is excited to be teaching stagecraft and scene painting to students and “building scenery is my favorite thing in the world to do. I’ve been doing it since I was about 8 or 9 years old in my parents’ garage. My mom took me to see theatre here in Wichita and I was just in love with it. It’s all I’ve ever done, it’s all I’ve ever been any good at and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Working with Director of Theatre Mark Mannette and Director of Music Deanne Zogleman is also something he looks forward to, he said.
“You’re only as good as the people you work with and I like surrounding myself with extremely talented people.”
Williams met Mannette years ago in the theatre community and has always been interested in working with him. He also has a long theatre history with Zogleman and said he looks forward to working with an “exuberant artist” like her.
“It’s a beautiful theatre space and I’m really looking forward to creating some beautiful scenery up here and working with my friends Mark and Deanne,” said Williams.
With an obvious passion for the work that he does, Williams hopes to mentor students to create quality work at a rapid pace, as show business goes.
“My goals are to work on creating a professional environment here at Newman in our scene shop and production work, the way things are run in a professional theatre environment. And training the students is what that’s all about,” he said.
Some of the upcoming shows include “Death by Chocolate,” “Mamma Mia,” an alumni Christmas concert and the annual Christmas show — all of which Williams will prepare new, creative sets for.
“I get to come in and create things every day — something new every day. And about every three weeks, I’ve got a new show that I’m working on. And that’s exciting work. It really is,” he said.